Monday, August 07, 2006

15 States Expand Right to Shoot in Self-Defense

15 States Expand Right to Shoot in Self-Defense

In the last year, 15 states have enacted laws that expand the right of self-defense, allowing crime victims to use deadly force in situations that might formerly have subjected them to prosecution for murder.

Supporters call them “stand your ground” laws. Opponents call them “shoot first” laws.

The Florida law, which served as a model for the others, gives people the right to use deadly force against intruders entering their homes. They no longer need to prove that they feared for their safety, only that the person they killed had intruded unlawfully and forcefully. The law also extends this principle to vehicles.

In addition, the law does away with an earlier requirement that a person attacked in a public place must retreat if possible. Now, that same person, in the law’s words, “has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force.” The law also forbids the arrest, detention or prosecution of the people covered by the law, and it prohibits civil suits against them.

The central innovation in the Florida law, said Anthony J. Sebok, a professor at Brooklyn Law School, is not its elimination of the duty to retreat, which has been eroding nationally through judicial decisions, but in expanding the right to shoot intruders who pose no threat to the occupant’s safety.

“In effect,” Professor Sebok said, “the law allows citizens to kill other citizens in defense of property.” More

Texas will probably join this list of states shortly. I'm of the opinion that the overall value of this law is questionable. I've always been of the opinion that one should be able to defend ones home from intruders regardless of whether or not you're positive they are armed.

Criminal defense attorneys are going to have a field day in court with this law. Any shooting that takes place on the shooter's property will have reasonable doubt automatically built in. Odds are after 5 or so years you'll see the language of this law greatly redefined.